Everyone knows that my mantra is .....
"Always, Always Celebrating the South and
Promoting a Positive Mississippi".
I use my books and poems as a platform to emphasize and highlight the positive things about Mississippi and the south, rather than all of the negatives usually portrayed. In one of the earliest reviews of my first book Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia (2008), the reviewer dubbed it, "a love letter to the South" I totally agreed with that analysis.
It really took me by surprise, recently, when a friend told me that she had been asked by someone if I was really REAL about what I was saying. The friend immediately told her that I was as real as real can get and as real as they come! I thank her for saying that, because that is the way I try to be about everything I say and do, not just regarding my love of Mississippi and the South.
I think that it surprised me most, because it sort of implied that I was making up the things that I was saying just to help promote or sell books. That could not be further from the truth.
First of all, it is not a very popular stance among a lot of people. Most people outside of the South seem to feel that there are no redeeming qualities at all, for the region below the Mason Dixon Line. There are even many who live in the South who have gotten caught up in the trend of accenting all of the negatives without any regard for the rest. Some ridiculous survey done earlier this year asking which states would people most like to kick out of the union (The U.S.), Mississippi and Alabama were the top two on the list. And most of the others states on the list were southern. Southern-bashing had almost become an Olympic sport! It has been practiced and perfected into an art ! Almost all of the movies, films, books, and documentaries about the South, overwhelmingly portray a negative image or have a decidedly negative slant to them. Most people accept, maintain and even relish a negative view of the South.
Secondly, this passionate "love affair" with the South and things southern is nothing new to me. It is something that has been going on since I was in my late teens. I have certainly had this love inside of me all of my life. But, I must admit, I really didn't know how MUCH I loved or appreciated the South until I was away from her for an extended period of time. When I went away to school at Boston University, I gained a whole new perspective and appreciation of my homeland. It became my soap box topic to "preach" about. Whenever my friends saw me coming, they knew exactly what we were going to talk about. They knew that they were going to be "schooled" on some of the finer points of the South and set straight on some of the many misconceptions that they had. It was not uncommon to hear someone yelling my nickname, "Mississippi", across campus. I totally and proudly " repped " (represented) for her !
Some people cannot even imagine how and why I feel the way I do about my home state and region. I totally understand their views, considering all of the negatives that they have been bombarded with.
Hopefully, I can change a few hearts and minds along the way to just even give our region a fighting chance, before totally disregarding, dismissing and disregarding her beauty. More than anything I want to introduce the fact that there are so many things to love about the South, that there are many people who love her and that the love that they have is really REAL! .
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